Romain Grosjean ended the day third with Heikki Kovalainen eighth during qualifying for tomorrow’s United States Grand Prix. Cool, dry, misty conditions prevailed during the morning’s final practice session, with rising temperatures and sporadic gusts of wind the feature of qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas.
An unpredictable Q1 session saw varying grip levels and wind speed make a significant impact on the latter stages of proceedings. Romain Grosjean benefitted to progress in tenth position without the need for a run on the medium compound tyre, having topped the times with his initial effort on hards. A comfortable start for Heikki Kovalainen meanwhile saw him move through to the next phase in seventh place after a solid medium-shod run.
Q2 by contrast was a tightly fought affair. A single run on medium rubber for Romain clinched fifth spot on the time sheets; the Frenchman setting a competitive first lap before aborting his second attempt after a big lock-up. A solid opening effort from Heikki was followed by a last-gasp second stint, in which the Finn soaked up the pressure to reach the pole position shootout by the narrowest of margins in tenth.
A single, medium tyre run apiece in the final showdown brought a strong finale to Saturday in Austin for the boys in black and gold; Romain making his third top-three qualifying appearance from the last six races, with Heikki impressing in eighth.
Heikki Kovalainen, E21-05
Q: P8, 1:37.715
FP3: P13, 1:37.879
“I knew yesterday that we had a good car, but I didn’t really set myself a target for qualifying. I felt that I got pretty much everything I could from it today, as I struggled a bit compared to yesterday with the cooler temperatures this afternoon. Overall, everything’s been positive so far and we got into the top ten. I’m not making any predictions, but we’ve seen that Kimi could do pretty well working forwards from similar grid positions so hopefully tomorrow we can have another good day.”
Romain Grosjean, E21-04
Q: P3, 1:37.155
FP3: P5, 1:37.345
“It’s not been the easiest weekend in terms of finding the right balance with the car, so to be third on the grid is a good result. We managed to go through Q1 on the hard tyre which was not the plan initially, but it was a nice surprise and gave us options for the two following sessions. It’s great for the team to have Heikki [Kovalainen] in the top ten too – especially with Mercedes and Ferrari struggling a little bit – as we’re still fighting them hard in the Constructors’ Championship, so hopefully we can score good points with both cars tomorrow. Sebastian [Vettel] and Mark [Webber] were very quick today, but of course we’ll do our best to round up the bulls in the race; we are in Texas after all!”
Alan Permane, Trackside Operations Director: “We’re very happy with today’s performance from both drivers”
How was qualifying for the team?
We’re very happy with today’s performance from both drivers. Romain is once more leading the charge against the Red Bulls after a reasonably straight-forward progression through the qualifying sessions. Heikki has come in and demonstrated that he’s certainly got the ability to deliver at the front of the pack; progressing through to the top ten with no real dramas despite his limited experience with our car.
How impressive has Heikki been so far this weekend?
He’s jumped into the car and delivered exactly what we’ve wanted from him. He qualified solidly in the top ten and has a realistic opportunity to score good points tomorrow. As we’ve seen this year, our car is often stronger in the race than it is in qualifying so he has great potential tomorrow; especially as he’s learning the car more with every lap.
Considerations for the race?
Our long run pace looks good and there are overtaking opportunities here. The track has evolved well since last year, so there isn’t such a hunt for grip and that should help tyre performance. We’re feeling quite confident.
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